Crispy Cottage Fries

A pretty simple, always delicious recipe for a cold Saturday night. The trick is in the beauty of the creamy sweet Wisconsin Russet Potato. This russet produces lovely, crispy fries that are soft inside and taste even better when watching high school hockey state tournaments!

Crispy Cottage Fries
6-7 Wisconsin White Russet Potatoes
1/2 – 1 stick salted butter, or vegetable oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic Powder
Paprika
Onion Powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Scrub the potatoes clean with steel wool. Cut in wedges about 1/4 inch thick and place into mixing bowl. Melt butter and pour to taste over cut potatoes, add salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and onion powder to taste and toss well.

Spread sparingly on large ungreased sheet pans (may use parchment paper) and place in hot oven. Let potatoes roast for 30-45 min., or until the bottom of the potatoes brown. Turn potatoes and contue roasting until crisp on the outside, and soft inside. Serve.

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Inspired Linguine with Italian Ham

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I have the 1963 The New Good Housekeeping Cookbook, which is great for proper ways to slice meats and entertain. But on page 3, it warns the reader, “No recipe, even Good Housekeeping’s, can rate raves if you fail to follow it with meticulous care.” Problem is, hmm… I first read that sentence this morning, 12 hours after heavily reworking, changing and failing to “meticulously” follow the recipe for Baked Italian Ham and Spaghetti. I am grateful for the inspiration, though, because it turned out amazing! Here’s the revision.

Inspired Linguine with Italian Ham
Ingredients
¼ tbsp. plus 1 tbsp. olive oil
1 lg. onion, cut in thin rings
4 small stalks celery, cut in long slivers to mimic linguine
4 cloves garlic, divided
2-3 tsp. thyme
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Crusty Rolls, Milwaukee Style #3

These rolls come from the 1955 Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book and turn out great! The recipe calls for “enriched flour” and shortening, but I slightly revised the recipe, using high protein bread flour, Dakota Bread Flour and lard instead of shortening. I added the salt last so that it did not prohibit the yeast, and slightly shortened the rise time. Oh, and I made only 8-10 rolls instead of a dozen or more.

That seems to be the difference, and the key to producing rolls that look like they come from a bakery. Please note below, this can be altered to make crusty rye rolls, too!

1955 Woman’s Home Companion Crusty Rolls, slightly revised
1 c. water, boiling
2 tbsp. lard
1 tbsp. sugar
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Turtles

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My hubby’s favorite Valentine’s gift. You can make your turtles with hand-made carmel from scratch (recipe follows) or with packaged caramels.

Turtles
1 (14 oz.) pkg. caramels (or prepare from scratch, recipe follows)
2-4 tbsp. whipping cream
1 tbsp. butter
1 (5 oz.) pkg. pecan halves (or honey roasted peanuts)
1 c. dark, semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips

Arrange pecans in groups of three on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a double boiler heat caramel and 2 tbsp. of whipping cream over simmering hot water. Stir after 5 min. and then every few minutes until melted and smooth, adding more cream only if mixture is too thick. Takes about 10-15 min. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the warm caramel over the nuts. refrigerate uncovered, 30 min.

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The Manhattan

The Manhattan, served in a crystal martini glass, and prepared as my father served it.  But when he ordered it, he always cautioned the bartender, “just a drop of vermouth … just wave the vermouth over the drink.”

Fill a shaker with ice and add the following ingredients:

2 c. Canadian Club Whiskey or Korbel Brandy
Less than a capful of sweet Vermouth

Stir and pour into a chilled martini glass. Top with a twist of lemon or drop in a maraschino cherry. Makes 4 cocktails.

Bernice Zurawski’s Bread

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 1.27.54 PM Here is my Polish grandmother’s signature bread, and no one in the family, no one, had the recipe. She was an elegant lady who also was a fabulous cook, including dishes such as tender venison steak and walnut-stuffed turkey.  But she made this always round, hard crust bread almost daily, sometimes adding raisins and topping with sugar. This bread was treasured, especially at my mother’s swanky Christmas parties. And, one summer, a grandson entered her bread at the Wisconsin State Fair, where it promptly won a blue ribbon.

My grandmother never used a recipe for her bread, of course, and would gently laugh while raising her shoulders when we asked how to make it. But we could watch.

This “close-as-we-can-get” recipe comes through my uncle and aunt. He was the second youngest of her nine children, and saw her make bread countless times. I’m so grateful, for as I follow it, grandma comes to life, there in her small kitchen, brewing strong black coffee as she scalds the milk with butter and sugar, then softens yeast for her bread.  Then she stops, turns, and in her wonderful Polish accent, asks me to “wait a minute,” as she pulls ginger cookies down from the pantry for me before turning back to her bread.

Bernice Zurawski’s Bread
Ingredients
½ lb. butter, and more to generously grease the bread rising bowl and bread pan
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Oxtail Stew, an heirloom recipe

This is a classy, rich, amazing dish. It’s an heirloom, for it was handed down to me from my Polish mom from her mom. But it is one of those, “they never used a recipe,” recipe. That means it was assumed you had seen how it was made before, tasted it, knew what you were doing and, certainly, made it slightly differently each time. (And you serve it on top of mashed   potatoes or wide egg noodles.)

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This “unwritten” recipe for Oxtail Stew is really just the “bones” of the dish, the basic instruction. The cook uses it as a start, then simply tastes and adjusts as he goes along. So feel free to take this instruction, and note of some of my italic adjustments I made today when preparing this stew; then make your own. ~But know, the next time you, or I, make it, it will be different!

Anyway, I introduced this Stew to my hubby when we were dating, and swear, that introduction led to the 20 years of marital bliss we celebrate today!

Oxtail Stew
2 lbs. oxtails, cut in 1½” lengths
flour for dredging1 med. onion, sliced
1 can condensed beef broth
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Creamy Peasant Turkey Soup with Waldorf Noodles

Roasted turkey stock, rustic vegetables and cream sent over the top with the handmade soup noodles as described Waldorf Astoria Maitre D’Hotel Oscar Tschirky in his 1896 cookbook, Oscar Of The Waldorf.

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Creamy Peasant Turkey Soup
Ingredients
2 tbsp. butter
6 stalks celery with inner, tender stalks and leaves, cut in 1″ square pieces
6 carrots, cut in 1″ square pieces
I med. or lg. onion, cut in ½-1″ square pieces
1 lg. turnip, ½-1″ dice
2-3 bay leaf
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Pecan & Peanut Butter-Chocolate Bonbons, circa 1983

Fancy peanut butter cups, with pecans! A recipe from the early 1980s, and a classic, perfect for St. Valentine’s Day.

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Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 9.49.33 PMPecan & Peanut Butter-Chocolate Bonbons

2 c. sifted powdered sugar
1 c. graham cracker crumbs
3/4 c. pecans, chopped
½ c. flaked coconut
½ c. peanut butter
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Belgian Cherry Bon-bons

Pretty little melted bon-bon cookies with a crimson cherry in the center.

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Belgian Cherry Bon-bons
1 c. butter, softened
2 c. confectioners’ sugar (also known as 10x or powdered sugar)
½ tsp. almond extract (may substitute vanilla)
1½ c. walnuts or pecans, finely chopped
2½ c. cake flour, shifted
2 (3½ oz.) containers candied cherries
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New England Poached Salmon with Dill, Caper & Egg Sauce

IMG_1124A little wild salmon for post Valentine’s Day brunch. The lightest and, perhaps healthiest, way to gently coax the flavor from the fish.

This dish, is a slight variation (~we just add dill and capers and punch up the flavor of the sauce) of the Salmon with Egg Sauce that was a favorite of President John Adams and First Lady Abigail Adams, the first family to entertain in the White House.  Poppy Cannon and Patricia Brooks’ 1968 The President’s Cookbook, reveals, Mrs. Adams thought the dish “so memorable she decided the ‘American’ quality of it made it perfect as an Independence Day dinner.” It was served with Green Turtle Soup and Apple Pan Dowdy for dessert.”

So, here is Abigail Adam’s original recipe, with a boost of flavor in italics.

New England Poached Salmon with Dill, Caper & Egg Sauce
4-6 lb. center-cut piece salmon
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The Old Fashioned

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This is my father’s coveted Old Fashioned, served lovingly and on trays at the best of family celebrations.  Each drink is made individually.

Dad’s Old Fashioned
1. Put a sugar cubes into an old fashioned glass.
2. Shake the bitters over the sugar cubes so the bitters soak into the cubes. Then smash the sugar cubes and fill the glass with ice.
3. Pour over with 2½ shot of any whiskey or brandy (recommend Jack Daniels).
4. Add selzer to fill the glass ~ more whiskey than selzer.
5. Garnish with a slice of orange, a maraschino cherry and cinnamon stick.

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Sauce

An old, traditional dish for a cold, windy Wednesday.  This recipe is much, much older than the 1970’s, but our Polish Mom adopted this version then and still says it is one of the best.

Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls with Mushroom Sauce
1 lg. head green cabbage
2 med. onions, chopped
1/3 c. butter
3/4 lb. ground pork
3/4 lb. ground veal or beef
6 c. cooked rice
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Inspired 3-Bean Super Bowl Chili

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Super Bowl is coming, so today’s posts include a variety of inherited chili recipes, topped off with this inspired recipe, 3-Bean Super Bowl Chili.  This new recipe is the result of all of the other chili recipes we’ve loved, and a new-found love for all things extremely hot and spicy.

Inspired 3-Bean Super Bowl Chili
2 ½ lbs. lean boneless chuck, cut into ½” cubes
1 lg. white onion, finely diced
6 tbsp. chicken fat, divided (or veg. oil)
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. hot red chili powder, or to taste
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